Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is it bad to eat red meat?

Mmmm... steaks, burgers, brats, many of us love red meat. For clarity, let's define red meat as beef, bison, venison, pork, pepperoni, salami, and other non-poultry meats. Consumption of red meat has been linked to development of heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, and even higher cancer risk.  Many folks (mostly women, I've noticed) shun red meat in favor of turkey, chicken, and fish.  Is red meat really so bad?  Well, yes and no.  One of the problems with eating red meat is that Americans tend to eat a bunch of it at once. A big 1/2 pound purger, a 16 oz. steak, 2 brats, a couple bulging tacos, etc. Red meat does contain higher amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats than white meats, and people with heart disease should limit or cut out red meat. However, recent studies have shown that cholesterol and saturated fat in whole cuts of red meats does not  raise blood cholesterol levels as much as we once thought.  Trans fats, found in processed foods and oils, raise cholesterol much more.  Lean cuts of red meat like filet and sirloin contain a large amount of protein, not too much fat, and lots of iron. They also increase satiety and make a meat-lover feel satisfied.  However, processed forms of red meat, like bacon, salami, pepperoni, processed brats, etc. are still linked with heart disease, high cholesterol, and higher cancer risk.  So enjoy a good, juicy steak (6-8 oz.) every now and then, and skip the processed red meats. Be choosy with red meat, and make it the good stuff.       

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